Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Touring Italy and Feeling Fine

we've moved into italy. yep, we made it through japan (although, trust me, we'll be back), but we are now traveling culinarily (is that a word?) through the italian countryside. i've got about ten million books (not really, but whatever) on italian cooking from pretty much every region in my house not including the shit i have amassed in my cooking mags and i figure i could cook only italian for the rest of my life and not duplicate a recipe. florence, here i come!

i love to cook. yes. i know you know. sorry to bug you again about it. however, i do truly adore it. there is this sensuous, luscious, rich sense of delicious wonder that accompanies me through my travels in the kitchen that makes me swoon sometimes over whatever mess i'm putting together on the stove. i don't claim that all are successes (k'yeah... no), but i do claim that in my heart all are worthy of living forever in my memory. even if it's to remind me why i should ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, NEVER, EVER TRY IT AGAIN THAT WAY AS LONG AS I LIVE. no big.

i know... blah, blah, blah whatever. i'm cool with that. but, just so's ya know, i wouldn't be able to face the day sometimes if i didn't know i was going to create in the kitchen at the end of it. no shit. i like being here, learning, testing, risking with food. i like losing myself to the mastery of the stove, the control of the fridge and the call of the mixer. think what you will, but i belong to the world of the epicure.

we began in chicken cacciatore, also known as hunter's chicken. i will not bore you with the recipe, because this rustic, country dish is really left to interpretation more than anything. good olive oil, organic chicken, excellent peppers and mushrooms and beautiful tomatoes and garlic, and you've got it made. i served it with some creamy polenta mixed with mellow ricotta and sharp parmesan (ah, my love), fresh pepper, skim milk and we were happy. oh, and some really lovely red seedless grapes. yum. my sons went mad. nicholas, interestingly enough, did not like the polenta, but brandon freaked for the whole dish and beamed at me all night.

nice to see my sons are willing to appreciate italian food that has nothing to do with spaghetti or pizza.

then, as you will see, we made some of the best yummies ever. tuscan pork ribs (or as brandon calls them, ITPR -- ITALIAN TUSCAN PORK RIBS), Garlic Broccoli and Whole Wheat Spaghetti with homemade marinara. we chose from our cookbook THE ITALIAN COUNTRY TABLE: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. you've seen me talk about this before. it's the book with that killer front cover with the canellinis, crumbled parmesan, julienned soppresata and more in a wooden bowl. yeah, i dream of it.
not all the time, but enough, 'kay?

so here's the deal with our ITPR:

4 lrg garlic cloves
2 tightly packed tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp xtra virgin olive oil
3.5 pounds country-style pork ribs (if possible, hormone and antibiotic free), 1 to 2-inches thick
about 3/4 tsp.salt
freshly ground black pepper

what to do:

1. first of all, i'm writing this to you without the cookbook in front of me, but i remember it, so here goes. you take all that yummy stuff and put it into a bowl with your ribs or into a ziploc, mesh them all together and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours -- overnight'll do it.
2. heat that oven to 325ºF and place the ribs on a rack over a shallow baking pan and bake for as long as it takes (like how i'm remembering all of this so well?) you want them to be nice and juicy, not dry and overtly wooden like the pork chops of old. since what you want is a nice crusty on these guys, turn your broiler on for the last about 15 minutes of your little baking adventure and let them brown.

serve with smiling joy.

we loved these. nicholas and brandon couldn't get enough of them, so i'm going to make them again. taking this trip through italy is kinda nice, relaxed and tasty. we have yet to succumb to the pasta as main course meal that so easily could be done, however, we will probably try something rather unique with that this weekend.

i'll keep you posted.
i promise.

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